How to Enroll in the Right Ultrasound Technician Course Near Marana Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Marana AZ, the next step is to start the process of picking a college. To begin with, you must find the right program that will furnish the proper training to become a qualified professional. And because a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each school in order to evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? Many potential students will start by looking for schools that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location should be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other critical factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be covered more in depth later in this article. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Job Description
There are various professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Marana AZ clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily work tasks of a sonogram technician can include:
- Preserving records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining need for additional testing
Sonographers must frequently assess the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to maintain that degree of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally take about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to finalize. Another alternative for those who have previously earned a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have received a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a related medical field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to bear in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training component as part of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which many schools set up with Marana AZ clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to satisfy the certification or licensing requirements in Arizona or whichever state you choose to practice in.
Ultrasound Technology Specialties
Ultrasound technology, or diagnostic sonography, has become more popular for diagnosing internal medical conditions because, unlike other medical imaging tools such as X-rays or CT Scans, ultrasound doesn’t expose the body to radiation. This safer approach has made ultrasound imaging the preferred method for testing pregnant women and infants, who have a higher risk for complications due to radiation. However, babies and expectant mothers are not the only ones who can benefit from ultrasound imaging and it is used in many ways to diagnose illness in the body. Following is a partial list of ultrasound technician education specialties available in the Marana AZ area:
- Musculoskeletal sonographers can create real-time images of joint injuries, assisting orthopedic surgeons and sports physicians in their diagnosis and treatment.
- Abdominal sonographers specialize in generating images of abdominal internal organs and tissues, such as the pancreas, spleen, liver and gallbladder.
- Breast sonographers conduct ultrasound scans using a sound frequency specifically targeted for breast tissue to evaluate tumors and other abnormalities as a method of verifying or contradicting the results of a mammogram.
- Obstetrics/Gynecology sonographers work with women to scan their reproductive organs and assess the development and health of fetuses throughout the pregnancy.
- Echocardiography sonographers are trained in the imaging and evaluation of the heart, its valves and vessels, and the blood flow to and from the heart.
- Vascular technologists are trained to use ultrasound technology to identify damaged areas or blockages in blood vessels, and to gauge the flow of blood through veins and arteries.
- Ophthalmology sonographers conduct diagnostic tests on the eyes and surrounding muscles and tissue.
- Neurosonology sonographers are specially trained to use ultrasound imaging to detect blockages, tumors or abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord.
Online Sonogram Tech Degrees
As earlier discussed, virtually all sonogram tech colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can receive a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on campus laboratory or at a sponsored off-campus facility. Practical training can usually be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Marana AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. However the remainder of the training and classes may be attended online in your Marana home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that keep working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online programs are many times more affordable than on-campus alternatives. Costs for study materials and commuting can be reduced as well. But just as with any ultrasound tech college you are reviewing, check that the online program you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly important for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Ultrasound Tech Schools
Now that you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of assessing and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Marana AZ area. Certainly location will be important if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification as well. But there are other things that you should also take into consideration, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they provide internship programs. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each sonographer school before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Schools Accredited? Most ultrasound tech schools have acquired some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still imperative to confirm that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Programs obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed review of their teachers and educational materials. If the college is online it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also help in securing financial aid and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Marana AZ health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry level jobs.
Are Internships Offered? Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are evaluating have associations with Marana AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Marana health care community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the sonographer schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Marana AZ home. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the sonographer program you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Marana AZ area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Marana Ultrasound Tech Program
Enrolling in the ideal ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a vital first step to commencing a gratifying new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to meeting academic requirements, you need to be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for lengthy periods and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Other beneficial skills include technical aptitude, the ability to remain calm when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this post, there are a number of questions that you should ask each college you are looking at. This is the case whether you enroll in an online program or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each program, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can realize your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Marana Arizona.